With a number of high-profile claims against Google in the offing, practitioners and individuals alike are hopeful for guidance on the interplay between the application of the ‘right to be forgotten’ principle and the forthcoming introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Iain Wilson, managing partner of Brett Wilson LLP, considers the issues at hand.
Part 2 of the Leveson Inquiry (colloquially referred to as ‘Leveson 2’) which had been intended to address ‘the extent of unlawful or improper conduct within News International and other media organisations’ has been formally canned by the Government. Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013, which, had it ever come into force, would have made news publishers who were not subject to a Government-approved regulator, liable for the costs of defamation, privacy, and harassment claims, regardless of whether they won or lost, will now be repealed at the earliest opportunity.
The Prime Minister has indicated that the Law Commission will review legislation “to ensure that the criminal law, which was drafted long before the creation of social media platforms, is appropriate to meet the challenges posed by this new technology”. A new “social media code of practice”, providing guidelines for content and conduct and how companies report abuse is also proposed.
In GYH v Persons Unknown  EWHC 336, the claimant, a transgender woman who works as an escort, was granted an interim injunction to prevent, amongst other things, the publication of information which purported to relate to her private life.
In LJY v Persons Unknown  EWHC 3230 (QB), Mr Justice Warby granted an interim injunction restraining unknown defendants from publishing serious allegations of criminality against a celebrity, anonymised in the proceedings as ‘LJY’.
Websites and social media accounts have been, for some time now, the preferred platforms for those with an axe to grind to attack their opponents. Disgruntled customers, ex-employees and jilted lovers number amongst those who believe the world wide web provides the best opportunity to criticise those who have dared to cross their path.
“#MeToo”: Five letters that have been tweeted millions of times in the past month, and demonstrate the enormous power of social media and how it can bring about change for the good. The feeling of solidarity is a cathartic experience for many who have been the victim of sexual abuse, harassment or other forms of coercive behaviour. Beyond this, the reach of the hashtag is already challenging outdated social values and societal norms.